Entrepreneurs are fond of coming up with new ideas. It can happen at the supermarket, in the bathroom, while driving down the streets or when eating that delicious meal. When it comes like a flash in thoughts, what do you do? I often get the question, what is innovation, my quick response is usually “The implementation of creative ideas that adds real value” To buttress my point, I go further to ask two questions. First, “when was the last time you had a brilliant idea?” And secondly, “What did you do about it”…?
Generating ideas, is only a half of the innovation journey. If the idea, doesn’t get implemented at all, it remains, an idea. To be called an innovation, it has to be implemented, and it must posses a value-addition component. As I noted in this piece on Divergent thinking, the quanta of idea generated, is very key to its viability.
To develop new and brilliant ideas, you must be able to dream of various options, (feasible or not), and then narrow it down. Ideation typically consists of two phases: Idea generation, where quantity matters and Idea Blending, where ideas are synthesized and narrow down to a small feasible option.
In the next paragraphs, I will be discussing two tools that you can employ to take your idea from the ground level into the implementation space.
2. Develop a Concept Statement
A quick step to move from the idea generation stage, to idea blending, is by developing a concept statement around your idea. A concept statement bridges the gap between your idea and a business plan. It helps you to focus attention and unravel hidden details about your idea, organize your thoughts and learn more about the market dynamics. Writing a concept statement is a great step in creating a compelling story about product/service offering that communicates your value proposition, to others. It offers you insights into its potential and helps you think more strategically. A copycat concept, is not always successful. You must be able to emphasize the uniqueness of your idea, from that of that of the competitors. A good concept statement, must include the following:
- A description of the product or service. This section details the features of the product or service; many include a sketch of it as well.
- The intended target market. This section lists the consumers or businesses who are expected to buy the product or service.
- The benefits of the product or service. This section describes the benefits of the product or service and includes an account of how the product or service adds value and/or solves a problem.
- A description of how the product or service will be positioned relative to competitors. A company’s position describes how its product or service is situated relative to its rivals.
- A brief description of the company’s management team. Your talent pool to enable you to deliver on your brand promise.
Often, business concept statement, changes during market analysis and feasibility testing as you gain more insights about your customers and the potential profitability of the business. Find examples of concept statement here
2. Lock Down the Building Blocks of your Idea
Creative ideas, rarely come in an organized fashion. The details often flood our brain in the most unstructured way. That’s why it is very important to add some structures to your idea by penning it down. Don’t think I’m going to tell you to write a 50-page business plan. Formal business plans are basically for investors, banks, partners and other external parties. There are many ways to summarize your business quickly. In addition to the concept statement described above, another easy method, is to use the Business Model Canvas, developed by Alexander Osterwalder. It’s a one-page chart that captures every key element of your business. You can make use of the online tool here, or download the pdf version here.
Another growing tool for summarizing your business idea is the Lean Canvas. Lean Canvas is an adaptation of Business Model Canvas, created by Ash Maurya in the Lean Startup spirit (Fast, Concise and Effective startup). Lean Canvas promises an actionable and entrepreneur-focused business plan. It focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics and competitive advantages. You can make use of the online tool here, or download the pdf version here.
Now that you have organized your idea, it is time, to begin to trim down and scrutinize it to obtain the most probable solution (convergence) that will save you a whole lot of effort, time and money. You can begin to test with real time customers to see, if there is a real market demand for your product and/or service. Develop a low-cost version of the idea or a value proposition landing page that communicates your solution offering unambiguously to your prospective customers.
This business strategy allows you to, test the market and validate whether customers real interest and opportunity exist. With an iterative process of Build-Measure-Learn loop, you will be able to trim out extraneous features, and obtain insights into the important features that meet customers’ pain-point. Knowing the core differentiating feature of your product or service, is very key to making your idea work.
Download the Business Model Canvas here (pdf)
Download the Lean Canvas here (pdf)
This piece was written by Durotoluwa Olumide. He offers advisory services on innovation, business strategies and developmental issues. You can contact him directly via: email@example.com